The concept of outsourcing to developing countries to reduce costs and aid development isn’t an unfamiliar one. I.T. services provided to the West from India have been a key contributor to the relatively recent economic boom there. Yet suggesting that there is budding software developing talent in Africa often results in a cynical audience and shaking heads, sometimes even from representatives from organisations working on this very continent!
Let me dispel this myth! During my stay in Nairobi, I have met many talented developers, working diligently and creating innovative software solutions for clients in their home country and internationally. Attending meetings at the ihub in Nairobi, I was surrounded by such talent, linked up to high speed Wifi, developing new, home grown solutions to age old challenges. Erik Hersman, brainchild of Ushahidi and the ihub confirmed my suspicions, pointing out fresh talent wired up right behind me. Here more from Erik here.
Meeting with John Kipchumba (Kipp) and Philip Thigo from Sodnet, they described how locally produced solutions come to life to hold governments to account and ensure better service delivery in projects like Mzalendo, Huduma (under development) and The Budget Tracking Tool.
The following day, I was fortunate enough to meet a team of Kenyan developers at Datadyne, who have created EpiSurveyor, a free web based application, which can be used to collect personalised data from mobile phones. This software, developed entirely in Nairobi by Kenyan programmers has been used internationally from reputable institutions including The World Bank, The Canadian Government, American Red Cross, Harvard University and many more to collect data as varied as Gorilla monitoring, economic, health and agriculture surveys. Hear from George Njuguna, one of their developers here.
Next time you’re in need of some software development, maybe it’s time you dispel some myths and look no further than Kenya!